It would be easy to overlook PathCraft in favour of some of the other huge upcoming VR releases. That would be a shame though, because the release of this charming puzzle-platformer has been a long time coming.
Developed by DevilCow, early versions of the game first made appearances in 2019, via an Early Access release for Oculus Go on SideQuest for the original Quest. Almost three years on, PathCraft has re-emerged with a visual makeover and publishing support from Vertigo Games, set for release on the Quest platform later this year. After going hands-on with this new version of Pathcraft at Gamescom last month, I’m happy to report that the demo laid out a pleasant and puzzle-driven trail ahead of the game’s full and final release.
In PathCraft, you’ll step into a ’90s-inspired toy playground. The goal is to aid a small cardboard box-wearing character to get from point A to B in each level by moving and adjusting blocks along a set path. You can’t control the character’s movements at all – he will walk back and forth along the path automatically. However, it’s your job to adjust his environment so that he can make it to the finish line unobstructed. You can do this in a couple of different ways – adding or removing blocks, toggling blocks on and off – but there’s rarely one specific solution to a given level. The puzzles are open-ended, often allowing you to find your own solution, as opposed to the right one.
Different levels pose different complications. Sand blocks, for example, will disintegrate after the character passes over them and therefore can only be walked across once. Other maps feature cannons that knock the character astray or large swathes of the path that can be turn on and off at will, requiring you to get clever with timing to make sure everything goes to plan.
You’ll be able to use both controllers and hand tracking as a form of input across the entire game. You can also dynamically switch between them at will – you can use your hands most of the time, but also quickly pick up a controller if need be. During my demo, I stuck solely with hand tracking, which mostly worked well. The moment-to-moment gameplay is fairly slow in pace and mainly involves flipping switches or moving blocks with a grab gesture, so it’s a good fit for hand tracking implementation. There were a few bugs with gestures and accidental inputs in the demo, but I imagine those will be tightened up for the full release.
Visually, the game has come a long way from the early Go and SideQuest versions. It now sports a refined and charming aesthetic that looks like the manifestation of a ’90s toy box and a child’s imagination. There’s cardboard and crayon scribbles aplenty, wedged among other household items.
The campaign will feature levels set across themed areas, such as a beach or a city, while all keeping the same homemade aesthetic running throughout. Plus, a level editor will also be available as well, allowing you to get creative in building your own PathCraft puzzles.
PathCraft is set for release on Quest 2 later this year. Keep an eye out for more details as we get closer to release.